Ina (Aino) Huntos Eriksson Silverberg Oral History Interview, 1981  PDF  XML

Overview of the Collection

Silverberg, Ina (Aino) Huntos Eriksson
Ina (Aino) Huntos Eriksson Silverberg Oral History Interview
1981 (inclusive)
3 file folders
1 photograph
1 sound cassette
Collection Number
An oral history interview with Ina (Aino) Huntos Eriksson Silverberg, a Finnish immigrant.
Pacific Lutheran University, Archives and Special Collections
Archives and Special Collections
Pacific Lutheran University
12180 Park Avenue South
Tacoma, Washington
Telephone: 253-535-7586
Fax: 253-535-7315
Access Restrictions

The oral history collection is open to all users.

Additional Reference Guides

Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Ina Silverberg was born on February 11, 1889 in Kaustinen, Finland to Abram Huntos and Maja Lisa Puumalla. Abram was a carpenter, and Ina lived on a farm with her parents and four older brothers. The family grew rye, oats, and vegetables and always had plenty to eat. When Ina was eighteen, she decided to visit three of her brothers who were living in Naselle, Washington. Ina ended up staying in America and went to Portland, Oregon, where she hoped she would be able to learn English. She found a housekeeping job with a German family, whose children were also learning how to read, and attended school. When Ina was offered a job that paid thirty dollars more a month, she moved to Astoria, Oregon. In Astoria, she married Leif Erickson, whose mother was Finnish and father was Norwegian. Leif was a logger, and Ina did housework, cooking, and worked at St. Mary's Hospital. Three years after they were married, Ina and Leif had their only child, Ellna. When Elna was twenty years old, Ina married her second husband, Axel Silverberg. Ina's Finnish heritage is very important to her. She belongs to the Finnish Brotherhood and has returned to Finland three times. If she did not have a daughter, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren in America, Ina would move back to Finland permanently.


Full Name: Ina Silverberg. Maiden Name: Aino Elizabeth Huntos. Father: Abram Huntos. Mother: Maja Lisa Puumalla. Paternal Grandfather: Matt. Maternal Grandfather: Matt. Brothers and Sisters: Matt Huntos, John Huntos, Charles Huntos, Andrew Huntos. Spouse: Leif Erickson Axel Silverberg. Children: Elna Erickson.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This interview was conducted with Ina Silverberg on August 26, 1981 in Astoria, Oregon. It contains information about family background, emigration, employment, marriage and family, and Finnish heritage. The interview also includes a photograph of Ina at the time of the interview. The interview was conducted in English.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

There are no restrictions on use.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Custodial History

The Oral History collection project was started during an experimental course on Scandinavian Women in the Pacific Northwest. Students in the course were encouraged to interview women and learn about their experiences as immigrants to the United States. The project was continued and expanded with support from the president's office and by grants from the L.J. Skaggs and Mary C. Skaggs Foundation, from the Joel E. Ferris Foundation and the Norwegian Emigration Fund of the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The project was directed by Dr. Janet E. Rasmussen. The collection was transferred to the Archives and Special Collections Department.

Acquisition Information

Related Materials

To search and view Pacific Lutheran University's digitized images, visit our Digital Assets Website

Processing Note

The interview was conducted by Donna Mallonee using a cassette recorder. A research copy was also prepared from the original. To further preserve the content of the interview, it is now being transferred to compact disc. We deliberately did not transcribe the entire interview because we want the researchers to listen to the interviewee's own voice. The transcription index highlights important aspects of the interview and the tape counter numbers noted on the Partial Interview Transcription are meant as approximate finding guides and refer to the location of a subject on the cassette/CD. The recording quality is good

The collection was transcribed by Mary Sue Gee, Julie Peterson and Becky Husby.


Rasmussen, Janet Elaine. New Land New Lives: Scandinavian Immigrants to the Pacific NorthwestTacoma, WashingtonUniversity of Washington Press1993

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The partial interview transcription highlights important aspects of the interview. Numbers may be used as guides to important subjects. Two numbers separated by a slash indicate that the first number is for cassette and the second for CD.

Container(s) Description
83, side 1 015: Aino Elizabeth Huntos
Maiden name.
83, side 1 071: FAMILY NAME
Russia ruled Finland when Ina lived there. There used to be a Russian Military Hospital in her hometown. Caretaker of the hospital had a dog named "Hunt."
83, side 1 111:
People started calling the hospital "Huntos." Ina's father last name was Pentela (?) originally. Not enough work or food on their farm. Moved to another farm called Kentola (?) and took that name. His 2 oldest brothers married and split the farm.
83, side 1 154:
Next brother crippled. Became a blacksmith. He married. Ina's father knew Ina's mother but she was too young for marriage.
83, side 1 198:
He didn't have money. Went to St. Petersburg (Leningrad) and helped build St. Isaac's Church there.
83, side 1 255:
Ina was born in 1889 in Kaustinen, Finland. Kaustinen is located inland of the Gulf of Bothnia and southeast of Kokkola (Gamla Karleby) in Vasa Laani.
83, side 1 310: PARENTS
Abram Huntos. His father's name was Pentela (?). Abram was born with the name Kentola (?).
83, side 1 332:
Ina's name was "Aino" when she lived in Finland. Her name comes from the Finnish epic, Kalevala.
83, side 1 348: BROTHERS AND SISTERS
4 brothers - Matt Huntos, John Huntos, Charlie (Kalle) Huntos, Andrew Huntos.
83, side 1 366: CHILDHOOD
Father was a carpenter. They lived on a farm. Open fireplace in the house. Father would get up early. Build fire in fireplace. Take care of the cows and horses. Come in house and make coffee. Call his wife to come have coffee with him. Take Ina in his lap.
83, side 1 394:
After done with his coffee, he'd fix Ina's hair.
83, side 1 418:
He did farm work and helped his brother, who was a blacksmith, if he needed help. (See also I-154).
83, side 1 429:
They lived in the old military hospital called "Huntos" in Kaustinen. It was a big building with many rooms. (See also I - 071, 111, 310.)
83, side 1 441:
Ina's uncle, wife, and 2 sons moved in. It was too crowded. Ina's father and mother built a smaller house when only Ina and her youngest brother were left at home.
83, side 1 465:
Ina likes America and is a citizen, but she was never hungry in Finland. She had a good farm and they had plenty. Grew rye and oats.
83, side 1 491:
Her father would never give money to people. If they came and asked, he'd ask them what they need and tell to help themselves. Told them to come and help when they started digging up potatoes.
83, side 1 506:
Ina's mother was a good cook. Made good bread. When Ina's parents gave food to people, they were glad to help out on the Huntos' farm. They got good food when they worked at the Huntos.
83, side 1 549:
Father was active in church. Went every Sunday. Had a good voice. Helped with the singing.
83, side 1 557:
He wanted the kids to have some fun. On fall evenings, after they were done digging the potatoes and harvesting other crops, Ina's mother would fix food. Then the kids would play in the yard. Her father would sit on the porch and watch.
83, side 1 590:
Her father was a very good dancer. Won prizes. Did schottisches, polkas, waltzes. Learned Russian dances when in Russia.
83, side 1 603: GRANDPARENTS
Died before Ina was born. They were farmers. Ina's mother came from a really big home. Russians ruled Finland then. On large farms, Finns had to give 1 or 2 Russian soldiers food and lodging. On Ina's maternal grandparents farm, there were two houses. One was for the Russian soldiers. There was a military training camp for Russians near this farm. (English translation II-990.)
83, side 1 700: SCHOOL
A neighbor boy was the same age as Ina. They shared a private teacher in town. They didn't like her. They were wild ones.
83, side 1 720:
The neighbor boy, Jalver, and Ina were 2nd cousins. Were very good friends. They ate dinner with each other. They'd make the teacher mad by running up to the window and yelling "company is coming! Here come the horses!" (Translated to English by Donna Mallonee.)
83, side 1 789:
Grade school started. Family of 3 boys and 2 girls moves to the area. Daughter, Alina (?) wanted to go to school. A man came to teach Ina, Jalver, and Alina (?). Her mother, Maja Liisa, helped Alina (?) learn to read. (This was part of the interview is difficult to understand.)
83, side 1 840:
Ina's mother said that Ina always had a book with her when she learned how to read. There weren't any libraries. By the time she was 9 years old.
83, side 1 914:
She had read the Bible. Sometimes when Ina had questions, her father would pat her on the head and tell her she was very young and would understand when she was older. Question about one of the preachers at church who didn't read very well. Ina's father said they'd have to replace him someday.
Came when she was 18 to visit 3 of her brothers who were married and lived in Naselle, Washington, which is on the Naselle River. The 4th brother came to visit Ina and ended up staying in America.
83, side 1 956: TRIP TO AMERICA
Came in 1907. Left Finland August 7th. Cousin's wedding just before she left. Lasted for 3 days. Dancing and celebrating.
83, side 1 982:
Lots of flowers. Describes a Finnish dance they did. Married a boy from Astoria, Oregon. His mother was Finnish. His father, from Hammerfest, Norway sailed from Norway, around Cape Horn, and settle in Astoria. He had a store there.
83, side 2 015:
Swedes and Norwegians in logging camps went half-crazy when they heard Finnish. Ina married Leif Erickson, a logger.
83, side 2 041:
Ina describes the dance in the cook house she and Leif went to. Violin and accordion players. Swedish and Norwegian boys couldn't speak Finnish. Leif translated for her.
83, side 2 105:
Couldn't learn much at her brother's place. Told her brothers she was going to find a place to learn something. Went to Portland.
83, side 2 147:
Met 2 Finnish girls who were born in the US. Came with her when she put an ad in the newspaper for work. The boy there, Billy Hayward, said she didn't need to put an ad in the paper to find work. There were many people who wanted Finnish girls who would cook and make bread.
83, side 2 208:
She was visiting a friend. The boy from the newspaper came. First time she saw a car. They ran to the window to watch. Billy said the lady in the car wanted a Finnish girl to work for her.
83, side 2 272:
Met a Finnish boy who worked at a theater which showed silent pictures. He was from Hailuoto, Finland. His name was John Heikkala.
83, side 2 337:
Told her she should go places and do things. She said one should be like a slug. Do things slowly and take it easy.
83, side 2 366:
Went to school with John to learn English.
83, side 2 384:
Had worked for some Germans. Good people. 2 boys and 3 girls. They were learning to read. She started to read too.
83, side 2 429:
John was very honest. Ina made it clear to him that she didn't come to the US to get married. Go back to Finland to get married. They were like sister and brother.
83, side 2 455:
Cousin came with wife. He died. Ina had to find a girl to take her place at work while she was in Astoria, Oregon for the funeral.
83, side 2 535:
Was offered a job in Astoria that paid $35 a month.. Job in Portland only $5 a month. Planned to go back to Finland in 4 or 5 months.
83, side 2 556:
Leif Erickson hung around a lot. They ended up getting married. Married almost 3 years before they had children. Ina has only one daughter. Her name is Elna. Married to Leo Malantes.
83, side 2 588:
They lived at a logging camp after they got married.
83, side 2 613:
They moved to Astoria. She had a job washing windows on the tall houses. Worked for a catering service. Did housework and cooking.
83, side 2 649:
Worked at St. Mary's Hospital.
83, side 2 657:
Worked while her daughter was young. Daughter grew up in Astoria.
83, side 2 687: CHURCH
Went to a Lutheran church.
Both she and her husband joined the Finnish Brotherhood. Belonged to an athletic club at one time.
83, side 2 708:
Married Mr. Silverberg when her daughter was 20 years old.
83, side 2 739: TRIPS TO FINLAND
Has gone back 3 times. Would go to stay if she didn't have her daughter, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She has good friends in Finland, but blood is thicker than water.
"I have been here 72 years and I get these kind of spells, like a sickness, I get so lonesome for Finland."
83, side 2 791: FINNISH TRADITIONS
Christmas in Finland almost like here, but better.
Laxlaada, a fish and potato casserole.
Some first cousins and many second cousins. Write to each other. They have often sent tapes for her birthday and for Christmas.
83, side 2 854:
Tells about her favorite people in Finland.
83, side 2 887:
Tells about when her father said good-bye to her when she left Finland. "When my daddy said good-bye to me, he put his hands over my head and said, 'Now my girl goes to the world. I can't give you silver or gold, but take my blessing and keep it. Remember the old folks prayers and it will always help you." (Translations II-990.)
SEE I-603: Ina was talking about her maternal grandmother. They had to accommodate a certain amount of Russian soldiers on their farm. The grandmother would chase the soldiers with a whip. They'd pretend to be afraid and run away from her. They were just humoring her. SEE II-887: Father saying good-bye to her in Finland. Ina says she has gone through a lot. Her 2nd husband was sick many times and suffered. Had to have a leg amputated. Her youngest brother wrote to her and said he worried about her very much with all the hardships she had. She answered: "Brother, don't worry about me. I have the Lord's blessing and it's helped me a lot. And it is true. I have read and talked to many religious people. Everybody has to find their own God. Some think it's imitation (referring to the blessing her father gave her) but in the Bible it says everything will help if you believe in it… I have my father's blessing. Prayer helps an old person if it is believed…If it is real to you then it is the real thing."

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Emigration and immigration
  • Education -- Finland
  • Family--Finland
  • Finland -- Economic conditions
  • Finnish-Americans -- Ethnic identity
  • Finnish-Americans--Northwest,Pacific--Interviews
  • Finnish-Americans--Social life and customs

Personal Names

  • Erickson, Elna
  • Erickson, Leif
  • Silverberg, Ina--Interviews (creator)
  • Huntos, Abram
  • Puumalla, Maja Lisa
  • Silverberg, Axel

Corporate Names

  • Finnish Brotherhood (Astoria, Wash.)

Family Names

  • Erickson family
  • Huntos family
  • Puumalla family
  • Silverberg family

Geographical Names

  • Astoria (Or.)
  • Kaustinen (Finland)

Form or Genre Terms

  • Oral histories


  • Domestics